Premier League news, odds and free bets – Saturday 20 October

We can be fairly sure that none of Saturday’s eight Premier League games will be postponed due to a waterlogged pitch, although England’s delayed match against Poland will mean the likes of Wayne Rooney, Steven Gerrard and Jermain Defoe will arrive back late to their respective clubs

Defoe is set to line up on Saturday lunchtime against Chelsea, with the north London derby at White Hart Lane set to be a feisty affair. Andre Villas-Boas will be pitted against his former club for the first time, with his former Blues assistant Roberto Di Matteo now in charge of the European champions.

Meanwhile, Manchester United host Stoke City in a fixture that they traditionally win, while Arsenal travel to Carrow Road on Saturday evening hoping to continue their fine form after winning 3-1 at West Ham United in their last match.

Tottenham v Chelsea 12:45
The Premier League returns with a bang this weekend and it’s hard not to get excited about the prospect of Tottenham playing Chelsea. The latter’s Champions League triumph last season denied Spurs a place at the European high table and that will be something visiting supporters are certain to crow about.

Even so, Andre Villas-Boas has brought a freshness to the team and the likes of Gareth Bale, Moussa Dembele and Clint Dempsey can make it a difficult afternoon for the Premier League leaders, with Tottenham on offer at 6/4 (bet365 £200 free bets) to close the gap on their rivals.

Since winning 3-1 at Reading, a result which apparently eased the pressure on AVB’s shoulders, Spurs haven’t looked back and that 3-2 win at Old Trafford saw them tear the United defence apart thanks to Bale’s searing pace and Defoe’s movement.

The Welshman was a revelation in both Wales matches this week and Di Matteo will identify him as the danger man, although it’s hard to stop the midfielder in full flow and odds of 9/1 with Blue Square are available that he scores the first goal.

Chelsea are not a team to oppose too quickly based on their flying start and they have already landed three points in north London this season after beating Arsenal 2-1 at the Emirates. BetVictor offer 15/8 that the Blues score three more points in this fixture, with Juan Mata likely to be nice and fresh after a surprise omission from the Spain squad.

The Spaniard is as big as 12/1, with Eden Hazard also only playing half a game against Scotland and ready to play his part as Chelsea look to go marching on this term. Stan James offer a stand-out 7/1 that Fernando Torres scores the first goal of the game.

Fulham v Aston Villa 15:00
It has been a solid start to the season for Fulham, who were unlucky not to claim all three points at St Mary’s before the international break after scoring what looked to be a late winner. The Cottagers have been typically strong at home, registering wins against Norwich and West Brom before giving Manchester City a tough match when losing 2-1 to the champions.

On this basis, there is no even money about Martin Jol’s team and the best you can get is 5/6 (William Hill free £25 bet) which will be a popular accumulator pick considering Fulham are traditionally strong in front of their own supporters.

Those wins over Norwich and West Brom were emphatic and the west London side will welcome back Dimitar Berbatov into the side, with the former Manchester United striker an 11/2 chance (Paddy Power) to score first against a Villa side that could be in trouble come May.

Paul Lambert has not inherited a squad blessed with quality players and the Scot will need time to build a team who can challenge for a top eight place in the Premier League, with the bookies prepared to offer big odds about the Villans away from home.

BetVictor go as big as 15/4 about the visitors claiming three points at the Cottage, with the Midlands side having taken just one point from four road trips so far. West Ham, Southampton and Tottenham have been their conquerors although they did surprise a few people by claiming a 1-1 draw at Newcastle.

Darren Bent continues to sit on the sub’s bench and wait for his chance and Christian Benteke proved for Belgium against Scotland that he’s a class act after previously scoring against Serbia during a 3-0 win. He’s a 10/1 chance to score for the third game running.

Liverpool v Reading 15:00
It’s the fifth Premier League game of the season at Anfield and Liverpool are still looking for their first home win. Despite this, the bookies are offering a best price 4/11 (Ladbrokes) about Brendan Rodgers’ team and it’s not a price that smacks of value when you consider the Merseyside club have just one recognised forward currently available.

The Reds also have several first-team players returning from international duty and you can also throw into the mix the fact that Reading are a former club of Rodgers, with the northern Irishman having had an unsuccessful stint at the Madejski Stadium before making things happen with Swansea.

Luis Suarez now carries more goalscoring responsibility than ever after Fabio Borini sustained a foot injury while on duty with Italy and the Uruguayan is the 15/4 favourite (bet365 £200 free bets) to score the first goal of the game, having recently plundered a hat-trick at Carrow Road.

In fairness to Liverpool, three of their four home matches have been against Manchester City, Manchester United and Arsenal, so they will see this match as a great opportunity to record a convincing win and a 3-0 scoreline can be backed at 9/1.

Reading are searching for their first Premier League victory of the season after amassing just three points from six matches although Brian McDermott isn’t pressing the panic button just yet and his team have been in several winning positions before allowing the opposition back into the game.

The latest of these matches took place at the Liberty Stadium where the Royals led 2-0 only to draw 2-2 although the manager will have been delighted to have seen Pavel Pogrebnyak and Noel Hunt both get on the scoresheet. The visitors are 9/1 to win at Anfield and send the Merseyside club into some form of mini-crisis at this early stage of the season.

Manchester United v Stoke City 15:00
Tony Pulis will probably consider this as good a time to be visiting Old Trafford as any. Most of the Manchester United squad have been on international duty this past fortnight and that will have deprived Sir Alex Ferguson time with his players, with Wayne Rooney, Michael Carrick and Tom Cleverley all featuring for England on Wednesday night.

The bookies are prepared to go 3/10 (Paddy Power free bets) about the Red Devils winning a fixture which has been three banker points over the past few seasons, although Ferguson might consider giving Robin van Persie and Wayne Rooney a breather, especially with Danny Welbeck and Javier Hernandez waiting in the wings.

Stoke City will certainly make themselves hard to beat based on previous matches this term which has already seen them claim a point against Arsenal, Liverpool and Manchester City. The Potters denied Luis Suarez and Co too many meaningful chances at Anfield, while they nearly escaped from Stamford Bridge with a point.

BetVictor go 19/4 about the draw and that looks far better value than the home win on this occasion, especially with Stoke having lost just that one game all season. Ryan Shawcross will be up against some of his England team-mates and Geoff Cameron has fitted well into the City back line.

The Staffordshire side can be backed at 11/1 to nick all three points and they certainly have an in-form striker thanks to Peter Crouch’s early season purple patch. The former England forward has five goals to his name this term and odds of 12/1 that he scores first could be worth a small bet.

If United are to win this match, we might expect it to be a narrow margin of victory based on the way that Stoke have set their stall this season.

Swansea City v Wigan Athletic 15:00
Roberto Martinez once again returns to his old stomping ground after seeing Wigan play well at the Liberty Stadium last season and only miss out on three points after Victor Moses failed to score from the penalty spot.

The Latics have already assumed their usual position of teetering over the Premier League relegation precipice and have just one win to their name thanks to a 2-0 victory at St Mary’s. They did make a fast start to earn a 2-2 draw with Everton recently and their manager will be looking for more of the same against the Swans.

Wigan are 11/4 (bet365) to win against a team who are struggling for form after back-to-back wins that got Michael Laudrup off to the best start imaginable. Since then, the Dane has seen his team sink down the Premier League table although they did produce a stirring performance to draw 2-2 with Reading a fortnight ago considering they were two goals behind.

The Swans are a best price 11/10 to claim their first win since August and Laudrup has moved to dispel rumours that players have contacted the club’s owner to hold secret talks about the manager’s training methods.

Michu has been the player of the season so far for the Welsh club and the Spaniard is a 6/1 chance to break the deadlock, although Arouna Kone looks bright for the visitors and he’s 8/1 with Paddy Power to score the first goal of the game.

West Brom v Manchester City 15:00
Whisper it quietly, although it appears that Steve Clark is proving to be an inspired instalment as West Brom manager and the Scot might even be an improvement on predecessor Roy Hodgson after getting the Baggies off to a flying start.

Albion have been untouchable at The Hawthorns and go into their match against the champions with a 100% record with Clark probably happy to take on Manchester City following the international break, especially as Roberto Mancini has to think about next week’s must-win Champions League match against Ajax.

West Brom are a 4/1 chance (bet365) to win this game and that seems like a big price about a team that have so far accounted for Liverpool, Everton, Reading and QPR at home. They have also conceded on just two occasions and that was against Rangers a fortnight ago.

David Silva looks set to miss this contest with an injury picked up on international duty, although it hasn’t stopped the bookies offering a best price 3/4 (Blue Square) about the visitors picking up three points despite the fact that their only away win came at Fulham thanks to a last minute Edin Dzeko winner.

It’s been a laboured start for the Citizens who sit four points behind Chelsea coming into this weekend’s programme of fixtures and Mancini might give Balotelli a rare start following the Italian’s fine performance for his country on Tuesday. He’s a 5/1 chance to score the first goal.

Even so, it could be worth siding with the Midlands team on the Draw No Bet market at 11/4 considering that they are making themselves very hard to beat at home and City aren’t their usually watertight selves from a defensive point of view.

West Ham v Southampton 15:00
The Saints went up automatically last season, leaving the Hammers to take their chances in the play-offs although it’s the latter who have adapted best to life in the Premier League after seven games. Sam Allardyce’s team are seven points better off although the fixture list has been a lot kinder to the east London side.

Nigel Adkins won’t be panicking just yet considering his team have faced the two Manchester clubs, Arsenal and Everton, with Southampton having collected four points from their last three games and this was a fixture where they managed a valuable draw last term.

You can get 11/4 (bet365 £200 free bets) that the result finishes all square at Upton Park although the home side will feel confident that they can continue hoarding up those Premier League points ahead of a potentially difficult winter and West Ham will be a popular bet at 10/11 considering that they have enjoyed a bright start.

Ricardo Vaz Te is something of a loss for the London side although the on-loan capture of Andy Carroll was shrewd to say the least and his presence will unnerve a Saints defence that have lost all three games on the road and conceded twelve goals in the process.

Carroll is a 5/1 chance to score first in this game, while former Newcastle team-mate Kevin Nolan is a 7/1 poke and fellow scouser is 15/2 to break the deadlock.

Norwich City v Arsenal 17:30
There are lots of reasons to back Arsenal for this match, although one negative is that Olivier Giroud, Santi Cazorla and Aaron Ramsey are just some of players returning from international duty and any momentum generated from that 3-1 win at West Ham a fortnight ago has been lost.

Even so, Arsene Wenger must be delighted with his team’s start compared to last season’s awful opening where the departure of Samir Nasri and Cesc Fabregas hit the club particularly hard. The French manager was shrewd to bring in Cazorla, Giroud and Lukas Podolski before Robin van Persie left and they are all starting to repay their transfer fees.

Paddy Power offer 4/7 about the London side triumphing at Carrow Road just as Liverpool did recently by a 5-2 scoreline and it’s hard to see how Norwich are going to stop their opponents scoring. The Canaries have conceded 17 goals in 7 matches and Chris Hughton will have been working on hard on defending in the fortnight’s break that the internationals have afforded.

City are still looking for their first win of the season and odds of 11/2 (Sky Bet) are available that the home side produce a shock victory although they are also struggling to find the net themselves and five goals scored so far represents a poor return about a team that seemed to find the net regularly last season.

It can’t be ruled out that Arsenal might run riot in this particular game and a 4-0 victory is on offer at 22/1 which isn’t too bad considering three were scored at West Ham. Maybe Norwich will have to meet fire with fire and a 4-2 outcome in favour of the Gunners is priced at 50/1.

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